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Digital @ Scale by Jürgen Meffert, Anand Swaminathan

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3WHY? THE CLOCK IS TICKING

LEADERSHIP IS NEEDED: Only CEOs can explain to employees the need for digital change, define the scope and direction needed, and overcome the forces of inertia in the company. Only then can the march toward to the digital future begin.

When the Springer publishing house sent the editor-in-chief of its Bild newspaper and the director of marketing to Silicon Valley for nine months in 2012, there was much amusement within German management circles—more so when Bild helmsman Kai Diekmann immediately assimilated and grew a hipster beard and started wearing a hoodie like a true West Coast native. Since then, the publishing house’s example has become the norm—Springer is regarded as one of the pioneers in German business when it comes to digital transformations. CEOs around the world have since started taking study trips to Silicon Valley, often taking their entire executive teams along.

For a long time, the biggest tech companies have been inundated with visitors. Everyone wants to know the secret of the Big Five of Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Uber. They go in search of stimulation and ideas, hoping to be inspired in this world of innovation. At Google, there is a dinosaur skeleton in the foyer that states: “Big is nothing. You can still die out.” This point must be top of the list when CEOs explain the need for a digital transformation to their employees and try to impart a sense of urgency.

How dangerous is the current situation? How far-reaching ...

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